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Coaching College Rovers to Gold Cup Finals

Coaching College Rovers to Gold Cup Finals

College Rovers, Durban’s top club rugby team, recently made it to the 2017 SARU Gold Cup final, a highlight on the club rugby calendar, where they faced False Bay Rugby Club at the Phillip Herbstein Field in Constantia, Cape Town. Despite their loss, College Rovers Rugby Club Coach, a former coach of the False Bay club, Derek Heiberg (42), is delighted with his team’s achievements this season.

“It was great to play in the final game against my old team; however, making the final with College Rovers was a special moment, as it was a goal that we had set ourselves when I started with them three years ago. Even though we did not win the final, we consider this season as a huge success,” says Heiberg.

Currently, Heiberg is also the Director of Rugby and first team coach at Glenwood Boys High School. For Heiberg, coaching is about raw passion for making a difference to a player’s game and contributing to the national pool of talent.

“Our goal, at College Rovers, is to ensure that there is a sustainable model in place for future success and to ensure that players are happy during their involvement with the club,” says Heiberg.

Heiberg had been coaching for 15 years at various levels before he joined College Rovers – including coaching positions at Wynberg Boys High School, False Bay Rugby Club, Claremont’s Villager FC, Green Point’s Hamilton SPR FC, the Western Province Women’s team at the Western Province Rugby Academy, Sharks Club XV and at Durban Collegians.

Heiberg attributed much of his success as a coach to his time spent at the Investec International Rugby Academy in 2013, where he joined the Advanced Coaches Course to further his coaching career by working closely with former and current, international and local coaches.

“As aspiring coaches, it is difficult to get exposure to other coaches at higher levels who have so much knowledge. As a result, coaches tend to stagnate in terms of their growth. The game is continually evolving and, unless you evolve with it, you and your team will be left behind,” says Heiberg.

At the Academy, Heiberg was afforded the opportunity to learn from former Springbok Coach Nick Mallet, and current Blue Bulls Coach, John Mitchell.

“I have always admired John Mitchell and Nick Mallet – not only have they been extremely successful in their careers, but they are known for their coaching styles – an emphasis on discipline and they expect the best from their players. These are traits that really resonate with me as a coach and has formed the basis of my coaching philosophy.”

Heiberg has big hopes for College Rovers in the future – something he believes goes beyond winning games.

“Naturally, we hope to claim the 2018 SARU Gold Cup victory but, to us, group success is not just measured by the number of trophies we win – we want to continue to develop our culture at the club,” says a passionate Heiberg.

Players hoping to participate at club level, according to Heiberg, should look at the club culture when selecting a team to join.

“Join a club that resonates with you as a person. Look at the environment that exists within the club, the way the players interact with each other and how the coaches relate to the players. The environment that you play in will play a huge part in your success. No one tends to be successful in an environment that they can’t identify with,” advises Heiberg.

The Investec International Rugby Academy’s Players’ and Coaches’ Courses will take place from 8 to 14 December at St Charles College in Pietermaritzburg, visit or contact Greg or Bernadine Miller on (031) 940 5565.



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